How will IoT shape the future of CNC machining

May 25, 2017

No one knows exactly how much the Internet of Things will change the future. Cities, like Barcelona, Spain, have used IoT to completely liberate themselves from debt and skyrocket into massive profitability.

And the manufacturing industry is ripe for IoT use. Imagine the data coming at you in real-time so you know your exact production rates at any given second. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in regard to what IoT could do.

According to this Forbes article, Bain predicts the entire IoT industry could exceed $470 billion in value by 2020. General Electric says IoT investment could total $60 trillion, or even more, in 15 years.

It’s an undeniably big trend. So, let’s take a look at some aspects of it that may concern you:

Will IoT Be Accessible For Small and Medium CNC Shops?

At this point, current thinking believes only larger machine shops will have the money and internal resources needed to make use of IoT. That doesn’t mean it’s out-of-range for your small or medium CNC machine shop. But it does sound like taking advantage of IoT will be more difficult. If you can find a company that serves your shop’s size, or if you can internally find a way to integrate IoT into your operations, you’ll have a huge competitive advantage.

Figure Out How To Use the Data Fast

Currently, one professional who stays in-the-know with IoT observed that CNC manufacturers almost exclusively focused on providing IoT functionality with their machines. The machines then connected to a cloud application, which presented the gathered data. But what does that data mean? None of the manufacturers had any processes in place to show how they would help with that. In other words, there’s another competitive advantage for you: interpreting and applying the data. Will you have to hire someone new? Can you assign this task to someone at your company already? Small and medium shops, as well as large companies, who learn how to do this fast can grab market share.

IoT Won’t Necessarily Save the Day…You’ll Need Help from Customers and Suppliers Too

That same individual who witnessed manufacturers only selling IoT-ready machinery commented that up to 30% of the world’s steel production is wasted during processing. This could be because of poorly engineered drawings or vendors insisting on supplying large batches of material. So, communication will be key too. In this case, you might advise your customer about their estimate material waste, and how much that costs them. Not only would you save them money, but you’ll build a lot of long-term trust and credibility too. That makes it much easier to keep them as a customer, which gives you a more stable and predictable business. And if you’re big enough to have investors, they’ll like that too.

How Will You Take Advantage of IoT?

Implemented properly, IoT could lead to big advantages for your shop…even if you’re small or medium in size. Now, you know about the potential weaknesses, how to compensate for them, and you’re primed for success.

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